Through the mysterious ways of Netflix and good graces of No. 2 son we spent a Sunday afternoon watching the 1985 movie, "The Trip to Bountiful" starring Academy Award winning actress Geraldine Page.
Set in the Truman administration, it is the story of Carrie Watts, a woman of some 70-plus years of age living for the past 15 of those years with her son and daughter-in-law. The crux of the story lies in her quasi dying wish to return one last time to the home of her childhood, a fictional Bountiful, Texas. She remembers the good times, the people, the happiness which human memory sorts out and clings thereto.
When she finally gets to the old homestead nothing is left but the memories. The town's last resident, Carrie's sought-for childhood friend, has only recently been the last to die. The village is deserted, and the few remaining houses are derelict. She is moved to tears as she surveys her father's land and the remains of the family home. The house she left just 20 years before is now abandoned, worn-out, ramshackle.
My memory of this movie was aroused after writing a blog on the "haunted", i.e., empty, houses of Brazil (Haunted Houses of Brazil, Feb. 7, 2011).
Thinking about my childhood and our home at 5074 Beacon in St. Louis from age 5-18 brought back a lot of those good memories life sifts from the dross. It made me, too, want to go back to the world of the 1950s.
Our middle child, theoneinthearmy, provided a satellite's overview of the three-block area, which was my entire world for 13 years. I recognized some buildings, remembered who lived where and the things we did together. Perhaps I could, like Carrie Watts, overcome the obstacles for one last return home?
Our daughter Susan, who still lives and practices law in St. Louis, brought me abruptly back to Brazil, Indiana, circa 2011.
Read your blog. I think that the entire street you used to live on would be considered a "ghost town" now. There is currently a house for sale on that street for $11K. They are all in foreclosure. The entire North Side is pretty much a ghost town, with a sprinkling of people every so often.
How things change....
I don't think I will be going back to Beacon Avenue. If one is honest about it, while memory remains the substance is never there again. Like Carrie Watts, after all efforts to go back to the world as we'd like to remember it, we all get old enough to accept Thomas Wolfe was right -- you really can't go home again.
The Features addition to the 2005 DVD release best summarizes anyone's trip to Bountiful, and much of life:
"The Trip to Bountiful is an American treasure, it is a meditation of family, an exploration of the human condition; it is a gentle reminder life is not forever, that each of us must be free to find life's meaning, and in so doing we might find some measure of inner peace."
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.